From Marty Cooper's first cell phone call to a farewell

The scene: April 1973, Sixth Avenue, New York City. Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer, endeavours to make the first public mobile phone call to Joel Engel, at the time the head of AT&T's Bell Labs.

The cellular network struggles to make the connection.

Eventually, Cooper is able to tell his Bell Labs rival, "I'm calling you from a cellular phone, a real, handheld, portable cellular phone."

Apart from being 40 years ago last week, a cynic might say little has changed. Yet this event was the start of a revolution in communications that now counts more than 6 billion mobile connections worldwide.

Of note, Motorola handsets are still being produced today, and again the cynics might say in name only, but the brand still stands while the majority of its competitors that rushed to join this burgeoning industry have long since disappeared.

Looking forward, the future for mobile communications has never looked more exciting, more challenging--and stuffed full of opportunity.

Five years ago, when FierceWireless:Europe was first launched, European voice revenue registered its first quarterly decline, the success of the iPhone seemed in the balance and WiMAX was being positioned to surpass 3G as a new mobile data standard.

I make reference to this more recent history to illustrate the pace of change in the mobile industry, and to note that this will be my last editorial for the publication.

Starting this week, a new, and highly experienced editor, Anne Morris, will take over the task of finding the best wireless stories from around Europe to ensure you remain fully informed.

During the five-plus years of my editorship I have never failed to be amazed at the rapid twists and turns that this industry can take, the surprises it can throw and the impact mobile communications is having on our world.

I hope that I've been able to provide you with a degree of insight into this fast-moving industry, and I thank you for your readership.--Paul

P.S. The portable handset that Martin Cooper used weighed 1.1 kg (2.5 pounds), measured 25 cm (10 inches) long and was priced at around €3,000 ($3,900). Even the most hardened cynic can't deny that handsets have improved over the past four decades.

Suggested Articles

Sprint said it will offer discounted service to customers age 55 and above.

Unlimited data plans placed a strain on carrier networks last year, but according to OpenSignal the carriers met the challenge.

Verizon plans to bring 5G to four U.S. cities this year and hopes to have standards-based equipment in place for some of those deployments.